High protein diets are great for building muscle, feeling full and improving recovery but is there an upper limit to how much you can consume? Some people say that too much protein can harm your kidneys. Others worry that increasing their intake will make them bulky. There are hundreds of myths out there but very little evidence supporting their validity. If you’re interested about the upper limit of protein intake then read below. This article will discuss whether it is physically possible to eat too much protein and what a reasonable intake looks like for you.
How Much Should I Aim For
For those who track their protein intake, the amount you need depends on factors like your age, gender, activity levels and goals. Studies show that anywhere from 0.8-3.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is reasonable. Very active people and those getting on in life will need significantly more than the average Joe. After age 30, your ability to put on muscle significantly decreases. This means you will have to ramp up the protein intake in order to preserve muscle mass and recover adequately from exercise. If you lift weights and move regularly, it’s recommended to eat a bit more than 0.8g per kg. You’ll feel rather depleted if you don’t. Young people who don’t move much can get away with a lower intake but would still benefit from getting at least 1g per kg. This is because protein does more than just build muscle. It helps you grow more hair, feel full after meals and repair damaged tissue. If you’re not one to track your intake by the gram, just make sure to include a protein source at every meal. It doesn’t matter if you choose chicken, fish, eggs or tofu, just make sure to get it in.
What Happens If I Eat Too Much?
How will you know if you’re overdoing it on the protein? Unfortunately, the actual upper limit is not definitively known. Studies show that healthy people can get away with 3.5g per kg without experiencing any negative effects. Protein toxicity is possible in theory but no one has died from it just yet. The most likely side effect you will experience is gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhoea. Usually your body is pretty good at letting you know when you are feeding it too much of one thing. If you get a bit of indigestion, unexplained exhaustion, diarrhoea or dehydration, excessive protein could be the cause. However, the research suggests you’d have to be going seriously hard on the protein intake to notice any of these symptoms.
Over-consuming fats and carbohydrates is far more likely to be an issue for the average person. Your body is able to convert protein into energy through a process called gluconeogenesis. So if you do eat a few too many chicken breasts, you will be able to use them as a source of fuel. Some people also worry that a high protein intake can harm your kidneys but there is no research to back this up. The studies show that healthy people shouldn’t be concerned. Your kidneys are designed to effectively filter out extra nitrogen that comes with a high protein intake. Unless you’re in a very rare subset of the population or have a diagnosed kidney issue, overconsumption of protein shouldn’t keep you up at night.
Will I Make More Gains?
Sadly more protein does not equal more gains. There is a sweet spot to hit and getting more than is optimal won’t build muscle any faster. Plenty of research has been done to test this out. One study looked at whether feeding men extra protein would improve their lean body mass and muscle gains. They found that there were no significant differences between the high protein group and the higher protein group. Another study found that consuming 5.5x the recommended daily protein intake makes no real difference to your body composition. Basically, it is important that you hit your protein requirements but getting more than you need isn’t necessary. So yes, you should eat protein at every meal. However the law of diminishing returns tells us that more protein is beneficial up until a certain point. Get enough to fuel the gains but not so much that you need the loo.
Overconsumption of anything can come with undesirable side effects. The good news is that protein is very difficult to overconsume. For those with muscle building goals or older people, it’s probably better to overdo than underdo it. Undereating protein means you won’t build any muscle or feel satiated. Eating too much will just make you feel rather full. If you’re eating a lot of protein and not experiencing any negative effects then keep it up! There are so many things to worry about these days but overdoing it on the protein is not one of them. More protein doesn’t always equal more gains. But it’s better to go slightly overboard than to risk deficiency.